If you’ve ever wondered what happened to your first car, or considered trying to track down the one that got away, Amanda Dorset can tell you what it feels like to chase down a memory. Two decades ago as a teenager, Dorset bought, restored and sold her first car, a 1975 Volkswagen La Grande Bug. A few months ago, Dorset was able to reunite with her Beetle thanks to a little help from the Internet. “It’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me,” Dorset says. Raised in Victoria, Virginia, Dorset had wanted a Beetle for as long as she could remember. Her dream car was likely inspired by her parents, who each owned a Beetle in their youth. In 1996, she heard a classmate of hers was selling an old Beetle and pounced at the chance to see it. The La Grande Bug, marketed as a luxury model and one of the last Super Beetle sedans, was one of a line of limited-edition models with colorful names like the Sports Bug, Sun Bug and Champagne Bug, offering upscale touches like a wood-grain dash and a fuel-injected engine. By the time Dorset laid eyes on it, the La Grande was not so grand. It still had its original Ancona-metallic blue paint and just 48,000 miles, but otherwise the Beetle was in desperate need of restoration. “It was a hunk of junk,” Dorset recalls. “It had trees growing from the floorboard!” But Dorset was up to the challenge. Her stepfather even agreed to pay for the car, if she was able to rev up its engine. Thankfully – and much to their surprise – she was. “The dang thing had a little juice in her,” Dorset said. They bought it on the spot for $125. Despite the car’s outward appearance, she painted her with a punchy coat of Plum Crazy purple and optimistically nicknamed the car “Pretty Purple Penny.” For months, she diligently worked with her mother and stepfather on fixing Penny part-by-part, replacing the car’s engine, floor pans, fender and seats. “That car defined me because of the color,” Dorset recalls. “When I go down to Virginia, I say, ‘Hey, do you remember me? I used to drive the purple Beetle.’” Dorset’s time with Penny was short-lived, but memorable. She drove her for eight or nine months before moving to New Jersey in 1999. During that time, she fondly recalls stories of getting lost, braving the weather and, once, thinking on her feet when she needed an unscheduled repair. “My defrost stopped working, so a repairman offered to bring it to his shop so he could fix it with beer cans,” she said. Years passed, and Dorset wondered what happened to Penny. In the interim, she married a fellow VW enthusiast, and the two went on to own five other Volkswagens. Late last year an old high school friend texted her a photo of a retired, purple Beetle in Meherrin, Va. Spotted in a Facebook ad, the plum Beetle was up for sale in a town seven miles from Dorset’s hometown. Was it her old Bug? Although it was far from pretty – the car’s color had faded, and her wheels rotted – Dorset immediately recognized her long-lost bug. Yes, it was Penny, and she was looking for a new owner. Right away, Dorset reached out to the seller and offered to buy the car on the spot for $525. Funny enough, Penny hadn’t forgotten her either. A custom decal, reading “Amanda” was still stuck on the car’s back windshield. When the seller “realized it was really my car, he says, ‘Oh my, your name is still on the back window,’” she said. Today, Penny sits at Dorset’s father’s house in Green Bay, Va., awaiting their next adventure. Whether that’s on the road or as a static piece of history remains to be seen. “I don’t care,” says Dorset, “as long as it’s mine again.”
The formula has been simple from the start: Pair a four-door, affordable compact sedan designed for everyday usability with the engine and handling prowess of a hot hatchback. Volkswagen first deployed this formula in 1984 when it created the first Jetta GLI, and the 2019 Jetta GLI unveiled today proves the old recipe still has a kick. Redesigned with American drivers in mind, the new GLI has more power, more technology and more handling prowess than its predecessor, in a package that’s within reach of the compact-sedan market. While some automakers have either made their enthusiast offerings more expensive or eliminated them entirely, Volkswagen knew some car owners need a bit of fun from their vehicles. “Volkswagen has long been synonymous with small, sporty cars,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “The 2019 GLI takes the redesigned Jetta foundation and adds performance features from the Golf GTI to give buyers a true sport sedan that’s the best blend of European and American flavors.” Start with the engine: the 2019 GLI borrows the GTI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI engine, good for 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel, an increase of 18 horsepower and 41 lb-ft from the previous GLI. That power gets to the road through a choice of either a six-speed manual or an advanced seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission – a type of transmission usually reserved for high-end performance vehicles. To keep the 18-inch wheels planted, the GLI uses a strut front suspension and a new multilink independent rear suspension. The front brakes are shared with the Golf R, while the rears are upgraded from the regular Jetta. And the GLI also employs the VAQ torque-sensing limited-slip differential, a key part of the GTI performance package that helps to mitigate understeer while powering through corners. Over the past three decades, the GLI models have typically played down their sporting capabilities on the outside. For the 2019 edition, Volkswagen designers turned the wick up a bit, beginning with a 0.6-inch drop in ride height. From the red GTI-themed line in the grille to the red brake calipers and integrated spoiler, finned diffusor and dual chrome exhaust tips, the GLI has more signs of the performance under the metal – but in a restrained, timeless way that’s more grown-up enthusiast than boy racer. of All of the performance enhancements are standard across the Jetta GLI trims. So too are several new driver assistance features, including Blind Spot Monitor, Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.1 And the Jetta GLI also comes with other popular features as standard, such as App-Connect cellphone connectivity,2 10-color ambient lighting, automatic climate control, keyless access3 and heated front seats. For those who want something extra, the GLI’s options include the 400-watt BeatsAudio system, a sunroof, ventilated seats and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit. For 2019, there will also be a Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary edition, with unique, dark gray-painted wheels, a black roof, mirror caps and spoiler, and badging. Inside the 35th Anniversary edition has unique seat tags, floormats and sill kickplates. This model also features the DCC adaptive damping system. New to the GLI, a standard Drive Mode Selection allows drivers to customize their vehicle’s dynamic behavior. This system includes four modes: “Normal,” “Sport,” “Eco,” and “Custom.” Normal mode gives a balanced drive experience, while Sport is tuned for more dynamic throttle and shift responses, tighter steering, and a more aggressive exhaust note. Eco mode optimizes shift points, throttle response and climate control settings for improved fuel economy.4 And the Individual setting allows a driver to tailor the steering and throttle and climate control settings: on the 35th Anniversary edition with DCC, it allows the driver to change the damping as well. The new Jetta GLI is scheduled to hit dealerships this spring. While pricing isn’t ready to be announced yet, the Jetta GLI will continue in the tradition of affordable performance it’s built over the past 35 years.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of Volkswagen’s Jetta GLI – a performance version of VW’s best-selling sedan. Over the past three decades, multiple generations of the Jetta GLI have delivered an affordable, family-friendly package to automotive enthusiasts. Ahead of unveiling the 2019 Jetta GLI at the Chicago Auto Show, let’s take a quick look back at the car’s history. 1984 Jetta GLI The Jetta GLI first arrived in the United States for the 1984 model year. After the successful launch of the Golf GTI – or as it was known here, the Rabbit GTI – Volkswagen decided to create a similar sporty version of the Jetta. Unlike the Golf GTI, the top-of-the-line Jetta had a four-door option, seating for five and a spacious trunk, which better fit the needs of the average American family. The GLI’s first iteration was powered by many of the cutting-edge mechanical pieces featured in the Golf GTI, including a fuel-injected, 90-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine with revised cylinder heads, lighter pistons and higher compression ratio. It also had a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission and improved sports suspension. The original GLI has become a rare classic, as it was only built for one model year. Its power numbers seem mild by modern standards, but in its day the first GLI was frequently tested against entry-level sports sedans from German luxury brands – and often came out on top. As the Jetta evolved throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the GLI underwent several more enhancements to improve its performance and visual appeal. The first 16-valve, 2.0-liter engine arrived in the 1990 GLI, for instance. 2003 Jetta GLI The new millennium brought a slew of improvements for GLI. The Mk4 Jetta debuted with Hartmutt Warkus’s modern, rounded design for the 1999 model year and the GLI returned for the 2002 model powered by the 2.8-liter narrow-angle VR6. In 2004, the more efficient 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct injection engine was also offered, the only time that GLI was offered with more than one engine. 2006 Jetta GLI The Mk5 Jetta GLI paired the 2.0-liter TSI turbo engine with an independent rear suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Where the original Jetta GLI was offered with few options, the Mk5 GLI ‘s demonstrated just how important tech and creature comforts had become for compact sedan owners, with available options such as touchscreen navigation, keyless entry and heated seats. The fifth-generation version of the GLI, built on the Jetta Mk6 platform, offered 210 horsepower and available technologies like lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems.1 But the benefits of the GLI – a European-tuned sport sedan at an affordable price – were just as evident as when it first arrived in 1984. We’ll see what advances the next generation of Jetta GLI offers later this week.
It’s called the Green Hell for a reason. The color half of the nickname for the Nürburgring Nordschelife race track comes from the German forests surrounding it on the Eifel Mountains, where it was built in the 1920s. The second part comes from the sheer challenge of driving the 12.9-mile track at speed – a cavalcade of at least 75 curves, bumps and undulating surfaces. It was so dangerous that it stopped being used as a Grand Prix race track after the 1976 German GP, but has served as an unofficial benchmark for performance vehicles ever since. And this summer, Volkswagen will take its most advanced race car – the all-electric ID. R – to the Green Hell to demonstrate the potential for electric mobility. Last week, the ID. R team began testing some of their initial changes necessary to adapt the machine that set a new record for the Pikes Peak hill climb last year to a new challenge: breaking the record for an all-electric lap at the Nordschleife. “After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID. R,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “A lap record on the Nordschleife is a great accolade for any car, whether a race car or a production car.” As it sits, the ID. R combines two electric motors generating 670 horsepower with a 48-kilowatt-hour battery pack into a carbon fiber and aluminum car that weighs just under 2,425 pounds with a driver. For Pikes Peak, the team designed an exterior that maximized aerodynamic downforce in the thin mountain air to help ensure all of that power could get to the road; when running at top speed at 14,000 feet, the car essentially doubled its weight. That won’t be necessary at the Nurburgring, where reducing drag will be more important, and managing power for long straights, something the twisty Pikes Peak course lacked. “Above all, we will modify the aerodynamics of the ID. R, in order to address the conditions on the Nordschleife, which differ greatly from those on Pikes Peak,” says François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport. “As part of our meticulous preparations for the record attempt, we will put the ID. R through an intense test and development program at various racetracks in the spring.” Once again, race driver Romain Dumas will pilot the ID. R for a record attempt, after becoming the first driver in the 100-year history of Pikes Peak to finish the course in under eight minutes. “The thought of driving the ID. R on the Nordschleife is already enough to give me goosebumps,” Dumas said. “I know the track very well, but the ID. R will be a completely different challenge, with its extreme acceleration and huge cornering speeds.” Much like Pikes Peak before the ID. R, previous electric vehicle record-setters at the Nürburgring have built their machines for sheer power. The current record holder made its mark in 2017 with a lap time of 6 minutes, 45.90 seconds, using a combination of all-wheel-drive and more than 1,400 hp. The relative power deficit of the ID. R might seem like a steep disadvantage, but sharp observers have noted that both cars went up the famous hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last summer – and the ID. R was about a half-second faster. But at the Nürburgring, with so many ways to go wrong, nothing’s certain until the end. “Breaking the existing electric record,” says Dumas “will certainly not be a stroll in the park.”
With winter in full swing, thousands of people head to the mountains every weekend to enjoy their first taste of snow sports, and to level up their skills. Helping them at every step are the 32,000 members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) – the world’s largest organization dedicated to skiing and snowboarding. And for the third year in a row, Volkswagen will help America’s ski and snowboard instructors get where they need to be. Since its founding in 1961, PSIA-AASI has helped create a standard course of training for skiers, and, in the 1990s, snowboarding. Today, the instructors of PSIA-AASI hone their skills and give students an introduction to the slopes at more than 300 resorts around the country. Volkswagen provided the instructors of PSIA-AASI with a fleet of 12 custom-wrapped Volkswagen vehicles, including the Atlas, Tiguan, and Golf Alltrack equipped with 4Motion® all-wheel-drive, to eight regional PSIA-AASI divisions. The specially-wrapped vehicles are set against a wintery mountainscape and the design helps to inspire and promote the passion that ski and snowboard athletes have for the sport. These custom wrapped vehicles can be seen at resorts around the country With ample storage, and available 4Motion® all-wheel-drive, vehicles like the Atlas, Tiguan, and Alltrack, are perfectly suited to handle the unique needs of snowsports athletes — including the instructors of PSIA-AASI. “We deliver more than 1,000 education events a year, and this partnership gives our teams an invaluable measure of confidence that they can arrive at their destination,” said Nicholas Herrin, PSIA-AASI’s CEO. “It’s exciting to see such a great lineup of vehicles that meet the needs of our members, whether they live in the mountains year-round or commute throughout the winter. From the Golf Alltrack to the Atlas, there are great options for getting outside in the snowy environment, pursuing the sense of adventure at the heart of our mission as snow sports educators,” Herrin added. To highlight the partnership, VW also worked with athletes Hayden Korte-Moore and Zak Hale to create a short video. Shot in Colorado, the piece demonstrates the natural connection between Volkswagen vehicles and snowsports athletes. This partnership with PSIA-AASI continues VW’s outreach to the snowsports community — one of the most demanding groups of drivers in America. “It’s great to work with a partner so committed to supporting the growth of snowsports through quality education,” said Herrin. “Our shared commitment to get people outside in the winter environment is a perfect point of alignment for the two companies.”
Over the past 45 years, the Volkswagen Passat has quietly grown into the world’s best-selling midsize sedan, with more than 29 million sold. Since 2011, Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., factory has assembled more than 730,000 Passats, for sale in America and elsewhere. Yet to hear some automotive experts say it, the popularity of SUVs has rendered sedans all but obsolete. Last year, some U.S. automakers have said they would pare back or stop selling sedans altogether. At the Detroit auto show this week, Volkswagen went the other direction – unveiling the 2020 Passat, a thorough update designed to make style, space and technology more accessible than ever to midsize sedan buyers. As Volkswagen of America President and CEO Scott Keogh told reporters in Detroit, Americans bought more sedans – some 4.3 million last year – than all passenger vehicles sold in Germany in 2018. “The Passat is a vital entry point into the brand, and as other brands exit the segment, we plan to offer sedan buyers a very cool new home,” he said. “We kept what customers told us they loved and improved what they didn’t.” The updates on the Passat start with the redesigned exterior, featuring a more aggressive grille, a coupe-like roof profile and a dynamic crease known as a “tornado” line. With standard LED headlights and taillights, enhanced decklid badging and standard 17-inch wheels (with optional 18- and 19-inch designs) the entire look of the Passat feels more upscale. While the Passat has many changes outside, what did not change was its reputation for comfort and spaciousness. The new interior was enhanced with horizontal vents running the width of the dash, a more contemporary instrument panel and touchscreen entertainment system. That system comes standard with Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect technology,2 which integrates compatible smartphones with the three major platforms—Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink®. Other available comfort-enhancing options include remote start and keyless access to heated front and rear seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, along with an available Fender premium audio system. To help add confidence to drivers on the road, every 2020 Passat comes standard with Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), now with Pedestrian Monitoring, as well as Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert. Available driver-assistance features also include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist (Lane Assist), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist) including Park Distance Control.3 The Passat also offers a suite of passive and active safety systems including the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. For power, all trims of the 2020 Passat except for a special launch edition employ an updated version of Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 174 hp and an increased 207 pound-feet of torque, connected to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission. And like almost every other Volkswagen model, every 2020 Passat comes with the People First Warranty, America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty. The warranty provides coverage for six-years or 72,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and the warranty can be transferred to a subsequent owner over its term.1 While prices will be announced closer to the on-sale date of the new Passat this summer, Keogh said the changes would keep with Volkswagen’s long tradition of value, and continue to serve as a cornerstone of Volkswagen production in Chattanooga for years to come. “The Passat, Atlas and upcoming electric vehicles clearly demonstrate our commitment to further deepening our roots in America,” he said.
Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change. The future of personal transportation is electric, and for Volkswagen, building the vehicles of the future means expanding in the United States. Volkswagen announced today it plans to expand its Chattanooga factory to build the next generation of electric vehicles – a investment of about $800 million that anticipates creating about 1,000 jobs in Tennessee and elsewhere in the United States. The Chattanooga plant will become the North American hub for Volkswagen’s all-electric vehicles built off the breakthrough toolkit known as MEB. “We could not be prouder to build the future of mobility here in the United States,” said Scott Keogh, CEO and president of Volkswagen Group of America. “We’re known as ‘the people’s car’ for a reason, and we plan to build EVs for millions, not millionaires.” The Chattanooga factory already has about 3,500 workers, who have assembled nearly 900,000 Passat sedans and Atlas SUVs since the plant opened in 2011. VW has already said the plant would be growing soon to handle another model, a five-seat version of the Atlas that is expected to launch next year. So far, Volkswagen has shown five concepts based on the MEB chassis – a system that uses a common set of components and can be flexible enough to underpin a sizable range of vehicles, from compact cars to vans like the I.D. BUZZ concept vehicle. Around the world, the Volkswagen Group has committed nearly $50 billion toward electric vehicles and digital services through 2023. The company has set targets for selling about 150,000 EVs by 2020 worldwide, and plans to increase that number to 1 million by 2025. Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change. In the United States, the first next-generation Volkswagen electric vehicle is anticipated to go on sale in 2020, a production version of the concept I.D. Crozz SUV that was designed to combine the interior space of a midsize SUV and the footprint of a compact model, with an all-electric range of up to 300 miles. That vehicle will eventually be among those assembled in Chattanooga. “The United States is one of the most important locations for us and producing electric cars in Chattanooga is a key part of our growth strategy in North America,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “Together with our ongoing investments and this increase in local production, we are strengthening the foundation for sustainable growth of the Volkswagen brand in the United States.”